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Ocimum tenuiflorum

Family Name: Lamiaceae (Labiatae)
Synonyms: Ocimum sanctum, Ocimum tomentosum
Common Name: Holy Basil, Sacred Basil, 圣罗勒
Full Sun: 6-8h Moderate Water Bee Attracting Plants Herb & Spice Fragrant Woody


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Shrub
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Shrubby
Maximum Height 30 cm to 60 cm


Native Distribution Tropical & Subtropical Asia to north Australia
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal
Local Conservation Status Exotic (Horticultural / Cultivated Only)

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Perennial up to 0.6 m tall with some woody tissue at the stem bases. It has an erect growth form which is highly branched.
Foliage Leaves are broadly elliptical with a slightly toothed leaf margin (1.5-6 cm long, 1-2.5 cm wide). The leaf surface is pubescent (densely covered in short hairs). Crushed leaves emit a musky, slightly minty fragrance. Leaves are arranged in pairs with adjacent pairs perpendicular to one another.
Stems Four-sided stems are purplish and hairy.
Flowers Pink or white flowers are tubular and 2-lipped. Small clusters of 3 flowers are arranged in pairs along a spike-like, racemose inflorescence (8-10 cm long).
Fruits The fruit is composed of 4 tiny, one-seeded nutlets.
Associated Fauna Flowers attracts Small Mason bees and Sweat bees, pollens.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Leaves)
Food (Herb and Spice : It is sometimes used as spice, but more commonly used for medicinal purposes. It is used to flavour salads and dishes containing fruit, fish and chicken.)
Medicinal ( In Indonesian folk medicine, the leaves are steeped in hot water and then administered to children as a remedy for colds.)
Cultural / Religious ( The Hindus regard this species as sacred and symbolic of loyalty and perfect love. They often plant it in courtyards and temple gardens.)

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Fragrant (Foliage)
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils
Landscape Uses Container Planting
Thematic Landscaping Economic Garden

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bee-Attracting

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Velvety / Furry / Tomentose
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Opposite
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Elliptical)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Serrate / Toothed
Foliar Apex - Tip Acute
Foliar Base Acute
Typical Foliar Area Microphyll ( 2.25cm2 - 20.25 cm2 )
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 4.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Dicot)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Pink, White
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Terminal
Individual Flower Shape Tubular
Flower Size - Length 3 mm
Inflorescence Size - Length 9
Inflorescence Size - Unit cm
Flowering Habit Polycarpic
Inflorescence Type Remarks Racemose

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Brown
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Indehiscent Dry Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Nut / Nutlet


References de Guzman, C.C. and Siemonsma, J.S. (Editors). 1999. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 13. Spices. Leiden, the Netherlands: Backhuys Publishers.

Lawton, B.P.. 2002. Mints: A Family of Herbs and Ornamentals. USA: Timber Press. 239 pp.

Image Repository



Master ID 981
Species ID 2275
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 07 September 2021.